For so many Star Wars fans, Heir To The Empire represents the Episode VII they grew up with. To many more, it represents the sequel they never saw on the screen. But now they can! And you can, too!
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For so many Star Wars fans, Heir To The Empire represents the Episode VII they grew up with. To many more, it represents the sequel they never saw on the screen. But now they can! And you can, too!
The Mandalorian season 2 official trailer launched on September 15
The name Jedi, or sorcerers as they are referred to in the trailer, finally emerge in The Mandalorian season 2. The Child clearly has the force but it was never discussed as to what specifically he had in season 1 because it was just the way. The Mandalorian and the Child are still together going on adventures while questions are raised as to the Child’s origins. From season 1 are the returning characters Cara Dune, Greef Karga and stormtroopers. There might even be a Star Destroyer in the trailer when one scene featured stormtroopers running through a hall which looks similar to the inside of a Star Destroyer. Moff Gideon will be in season 2 but he is actually absent in the trailer.
The trailer is 1:52 with great visuals and suspenseful music to keep you wanting more. Not too much is revealed in the trailer but visually it was still exciting. Since the trailer launched there have been much rumors as to who will be in The Mandalorian. The rumors have not been confirmed in the trailer but have been confirmed because we can see who will be playing the rumored characters. Thankfully the rumored characters were not in the trailer because that would just be a huge spoiler. The biggest rumor is the return of Boba Fett. I already knew he escaped the Sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi because he is Boba freakin’ Fett. The trailer actually doesn’t feature Boba Fett but Temuera Morrison, the actor that played Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones, has officially been cast for the roll.
Ahsoka Tano is rumored to be returning to the Star Wars universe in The Mandalorian. Ahsoka Tano first appeared in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars as the Jedi Padawan of Anakin Skywalker. Rosario Dawson has reportedly been cast to play Ahsoka Tano. Bo Katan from Star Wars Rebels is also rumored to be returning. Again, Ahsoka Tano and Bo Katan are not in the trailer. One rumor that cannot be confirmed is Emperor Palpatine. Rumors and fan theories say that Emperor Palpatine could make an appearance in The Mandalorian but there are no actors or information, yet, to confirm this.
Pedro Pascal, the actor that plays the Mandalorian, is rumored to have quit halfway through filming season 2. Rumors say that Pedro Pascal wanted to have more scenes with his helmet off. As a Mandalorian you are forbidden from removing your helmet. Pedro Pascal is said to have been frustrated about being in the Mandalorian suit and helmet all the time. Studio executives also refused Pedro Pascal’s demands. The frustration of having the suit and helmet on all the time combined with the studio refusing your demands appeared to be too much on Pedro Pascal to handle. Pedro Pascal in season 1 removed his helmet in only one scene which lasted about 3 minutes. Hopefully things have, or will, work out between Pedro Pascal and Disney.
The following are the air dates of every episode in season 2. Currently there are no official titles for each episode.
By Devin Mendelson
Some Spoilers For Star Wars: Ambush at Corellia (Corellian Trilogy – Book 1)
Our galaxy isn’t alone in dealing with racial tensions. I just finished reading Showdown At Centerpoint, the third and final novel of the Corellian Trilogy. I was surprised by how human supremacy, xenophobia, and race riots are seemingly so intertwined with the trilogy’s overarching plot. It reminded me a lot of the recent social unrest in our world. Now, more than ever, is the time to talk about the ethnocentrism in a galaxy that, sadly, doesn’t feel so far, far away at all.
The Corellian Trilogy takes place 14 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. In those 14 years, Corellia’s economy tanks. Corellian humans, who make up roughly 60% of the sentient population, became more politically isolationist and anti-alien. Such sentiments don’t bode well economically without an Empire to build warships for. Those bitter feelings towards aliens only worsened when the New Republic appointed a Frozian named Micamberlecto as the Governor-General of Corellia.
The situation on Corellia provided an excellent opportunity for a human supremacist group to garner support from increasingly-sympathetic human ears. Thus, the Human League rose to the occasion, led by a man who looked so similar to Han Solo that Jabba the Hutt’s bounty hunters might have easily gone after the wrong man had they seen him prior to Empire Strikes Back.
The first book begins shortly before Leia travels to Corellia for a trade summit designed to reduce Corellia’s economic hardships. Since Corellia is Han’s homeworld, Leia decides to bring her husband and their three kids: Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin, along, so that the trip could double as a family vacation. But not even Han Solo knew anything about the events that would soon unfold on his homeworld, least of all the involvement of his own flesh and blood – his cousin: Thrackan Sal-Solo.
Things escalate very quickly after Mara Jade arrives at the Corona House with an encoded message. Thrackan uses a pseudonym for his message to Chief of State Leia Organa Solo. He promises to trigger supernovas and kill all life in a list of nearby star systems if his future demands are not met. The message contains each star’s coordinates and the date when the said star is set to explode. The first star on the list went nova after the message was supposed to be given to Luke Skywalker. The threat is credible because the first star that went nova was the first one on the list, and it blew up when the message said it would.
Later that day, the Human League initiates violent riots all over Coronet City, Corellia’s capital. They even set the Selonian Enclave on fire, sending a clear, appalling message – potentially starting a devastating race war between the two species.
Attacks on non-humans erupt not just “‘in Coronet [City], but all over the planet’” (Allen, 284). The “torchlight parade” of violence sweeps across to “‘other [inhabited] planets [in the Corellian system], too’” (284). The Overden ignites the riots on Selonia, and by the Drallists on Drall. Soon, everybody is attacking everyone: “‘Drall attacking Selonians, both attacking humans, and humans attacking… everywhere.’” (284). The chaos on Coronet continued for hours until suddenly all of the holo and flat view screens on the planet, which had shown nothing but static since the fighting began, changed to display a live stream of Thrackan Sal-Solo.
Speaking to everyone on Corellia, Thrackan declares himself ruler of the sector since he legitimately would have been the next-in-line Diktat under Imperial law. Following his self-coronation, he condemns the New Republic and its “‘oppressive all-species policy’” (295). Thrackan promises that “‘[f]rom this time forward, [Corellia] shall be independent, with no Republican master in power over [them]’” (295). After declaring Corellia’s “liberation” (secession) from the New Republic, he reveals that he has “‘the power to back up these pronouncements… [since] two weeks ago a supernova explosion occurred on the outskirts of the Corellian Sector. The de facto Governor-General of the New Republic government ha[d] recently been provided with convincing proof that it was the Human League who caused that explosion, and the Human League that stands ready to cause further stellar explosions if [their] just demands are not met’” (295).
“‘We hereby demand that the so-called New Republic commence immediate operations to deport all Drall and Selonians and other nonhumans off the planet of Corellia within thirty standard days. Otherwise, we will be forced to proceed with plans for our next stellar detonation. This is a day we have waited for these many years. It is now at hand. Now we can build toward freedom for all humanity in this sector, unfettered and unsullied by association with lesser races… The future is full of promise. And the future is ours. Thank you all, and good night’” (295-296). Thrackan’s message is clear: comply, or we will kill star systems starting with one hosting thousands of lives, then if you still don’t obey, we target ones with millions of lives, and then, if you’re too damn stubborn, billions will die when we blow up Corell, the Corellian system’s star.
The Corellian trilogy would be very controversial if it were released today. But these books all came out in 1995. While this is merely speculative, perhaps the racial component of the plot is reflective of the real-world events that took place in the few years leading up to when Roger MacBride Allen began writing. After all, these books came out only a few years after the Los Angeles race riots, the end of Apartheid, and only a few years after David Duke won the majority of the white vote in the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial race (Duke lost since all votes are accounted for – thank God). I wouldn’t be surprised if real-world events influenced his writing since the author’s late father was both an author and a historian.
But regardless of whether real-world events influenced this trilogy, the bottom line is that it’s damn-good writing. The Corellian Trilogy tells an intricate story full of suspense. The author poured so much thought into it. And the plot goes well-beyond just the racial component. As important as speciesism is to the plot, I have only spoiled a small slice of the cake. A mere piece of the puzzle. There is a lot more going on in this trilogy than what I’ve revealed, and that is very intentional because it’s such a great series of books. No one should have the meat and potatoes of the story served to them prematurely. I would definitely recommend reading them – especially if you love all ages of Star Wars. You can purchase them as mass-market paperbacks here, ebooks here, or abridged audiobooks here.
Allen, Roger MacBride. Star Wars: Ambush at Corellia. Bantam Books, 1995.
For those of you who don’t know, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game that launched in late 2011 – less than a year before George sold the franchise to Disney. It was announced in 2008, three years after the release of Obsidian’s Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and five years after the original Knights of the Old Republic game’s launch.
The game takes place more than two-and-a-half millennia before Darth Bane establishes the Rule of Two and more than thirty-six hundred years before the Battle of Yavin. That is to say, there were countless legions of Sith during the Old Republic. During this era, the Sith had its own Empire, and the game surrounds the conflict between the Republic and the Sith Empire. If you thought Emperor Palpatine was evil from the movies, just wait until you find out what the Sith Emperor is capable of!
If you love Star Wars, you will love this game: it’s loaded with lore! And although a decent amount of the lore has to be read, the game is filled with so many cutscenes and voice-acted interactions with NPCs. In fact, the game holds the Guinness World Record for having the most lines of voice-acted dialogue in the history of voice over projects, let alone video games. And that record was won while only factoring in the content that existed when the game launched. At its release, SWTOR had over 200,000 voice-acted lines of dialogue. An absolutely insane number! Now, nearly a decade and dozens of content updates later, that number has surely gone up by a significant degree. Unsurprisingly, the game cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, and despite this, it sadly didn’t do as well as EA had hoped upon its release. But the game that was released in 2011 is very different from the game as it exists in 2020.
For starters, the game is now free-to-play. One of the biggest advantages of the game being free-to-play is that you can play it with your friends who wouldn’t otherwise be willing to try it since they don’t want to spend money. The game has also gotten much more casual-friendly. Leveling up is no longer the excessive time-sink that it once was. The expansions and continued release of content – especially story content – is one of the largest appeals of the game. It’s what I love about the game most. You get invested in the game as the game invests in you, the player. Unlike other Star Wars games, this game evolves over many years: it keeps changing and improving. EA’s Battlefront II is officially done with adding new content after only 2.5 years, and only the Resurrection DLC contained new story content. Fortunately, the servers are still online and will be for years to come. But nothing new will be added. That’s why SWTOR has such a dedicated fan-base. Because something new is always in the works. The developers constantly earn your loyalty to the game through content updates that span years. There’s always more to come, and there’s always something you haven’t done yet since the game is so massive. There are so many different places to explore: some planets are familiar like Tatooine, Coruscant, and Hoth, while others such as Voss and Zakuul offer fresh, new experiences in the Star Wars universe. The game is so far removed from the films, and you get to see cool ships, planets, and technologies that you haven’t seen before. You get to explore the noble world of Alderaan – thousands of years before the Death Star annihilates it in A New Hope. In that same film, Leia lies to Grand Moff Tarkin by claiming that the Rebel Base is on Dantooine. We never see Dantooine in the films, but in SWTOR, you can make a lightspeed jump to Dantooine! Remember in Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo talked about an encounter he had with a bounty hunter on a planet called Ord Mantell? Well, you can check that one out in-game, too! These planets, atmospheres, and environments are jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially on higher graphics settings. But the game looks great on lower graphics settings, too, and most modern PCs can handle running the game, even many laptops. The game is, after all, more than eight-and-a-half years old, and improvements in computer hardware over the past eight years have rapidly evolved. You can even give the game a go on a Mac if you download Windows 10 onto it via bootcamp. The game also has so many options for customizing your heads-up display, settings, and keybindings so that you can play the game in whatever way makes you most comfortable.
The Old Republic is a very unique era of Star Wars that has thus far, sadly, been neglected by Disney’s canon. Unfortunately, Disney canon’s “The High Republic” is only hundreds of years before the films, not thousands. That means that there are only two sith at a time during this era, unlike the legions of Sith that existed during The Old Republic. (Unless Disney retcons the Rule of Two – which wouldn’t make much sense since it’s explicitly brought up in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars). If you want to learn more about how the Sith went from having armies to being just a master and an apprentice, I would highly recommend the Darth Bane trilogy. It’s my favorite Star Wars novel trilogy of all time. Anyways, it will be interesting to see what villains take the place of Sith in The High Republic. Obviously, there will still be two true Sith during this era, but my point stands that more villains are needed since those Sith would be hiding in the shadows, concealing their existence. Regardless, we won’t find out more about that until 2021. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait that long for new story content for SWTOR, which is expected at some point within the next few months (despite COVID). Most recently, the developers at Bioware added swoop racing to the game, which originated as a mini-game in the original KOTOR game back in 2003.
The free-to-play base game has 8 unique class stories: Sith Inquisitor, Sith Warrior, Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, Imperial Agent, and Republic Trooper. You get to choose a faction when you create a character – either Republic or Imperial. The Jedi, Trooper, and Smuggler are aligned with the Republic and the Sith, Bounty Hunter, and Agent are aligned with the Sith Empire. But just because you’re a Jedi doesn’t mean you have to make Jedi choices. The game lets you be a Dark Jedi if you so desire – a Jedi who’s fallen to the dark side. You can also play as a Sith who embraces the light side of the force. You can also be a pacifist agent or warmongering trooper. In short, you don’t have to play as “a good guy” if you choose Pub or be “a bad guy” if you choose Imp.
All of the class stories are amazing and you meet so many unique characters who accompany you. These characters are called companions. Each class story has five unique companions that you meet over the course of your journey through the main story. Make sure to talk to your companions at rest zones to learn more about them and their backstories. Some even give you special companion missions, and you can even romance some of them. And, if you play your cards right, you get to marry them.
Smuggler Story: If your favorite character from the films is Han Solo, you should definitely make your first toon a smuggler. The smuggler class story runs a lot of parallels with Han Solo’s story from the original trilogy – especially if you select a male character (because of a particular companion romance option). There’s also another Smuggler companion that represents fan service done right.
Bounty Hunter Story: The Bounty Hunter class story has become a more popular choice since the release of The Mandalorian on Disney+. If you love that show and want to learn more about Mandalorian culture before Mando returns this fall for season 2, then this is the way.
Republic Trooper: For the Republic! This class is the choice of Republic patriots, and people who simply love wielding a giant laser minigun. The story is focused on the military aspect of the Star Wars universe. If your favorite story arcs from The Clone Wars were the ones that followed the lives of Clone Troopers, you should definitely give the Republic Trooper a shot.
Imperial Agent: This might come as a surprise, but the Imperial Agent is often considered the best of the eight class stories. If you ever wondered what it was like to do the Empire’s dirty work, this is your chance. The story is unique because it has multiple endings, depending on the choices you make throughout your journey. If you like a good story with plenty of surprises, twists, and turns, then the Imperial Agent is the way to go.
Jedi Consular: If you enjoyed the diplomacy and galactic political maneuvering from the Prequels, and also enjoy wielding a lightsaber, then you will love this class story. The Consular story is for the stoics, for those whose favorite characters are Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda. If you want to be the glue that holds the fragile Republic together, then you’ll feel right at home with the Consular.
Sith Inquisitor: If you’re intrigued by ancient Sith legends and force spells, jump forth and dive into the depths of the dark side of the force with the Sith Inquisitor story. You get to rediscover long-lost Sith secrets and explore the true power of the dark side.
Jedi Knight: If you played the Knights of the Old Republic and/or Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and are disappointed that KOTOR III never happened, you’re in luck. The Jedi Knight story is considered by many to be KOTOR III. In most cases, when people challenge the prospect of the Agent being the best story, the Jedi Knight is what they argue takes the cake. You get one of the best romances the game has to offer (as a male toon – I’m sure the female equivalent is great, too). If you plan on playing the Expansions, the timeline will make the most sense if you play through as a Jedi Knight – especially pertaining to the content involving the Sith Emperor such as Shadow of Revan, Rise of the Emperor, Knights of the Eternal Throne, and Knights of the Fallen Empire.
Sith Warrior: If you want to learn more about the Sith ruling the Empire, or you simply enjoy causing mayhem with a red lightsaber, check out the Sith Warrior. The story is engaging, and it contains a fantastic romance (as a male). One of the coolest parts of being a Sith Warrior is that you can bring your apprentice to the dark side or light side, depending on the choices you make in the game.
Each class has two advanced classes and each advanced class lets you choose one of three disciplines. As a Sith Warrior, for example, you get to choose one of two advanced classes: either a Sith Marauder or a Sith Juggernaut. Each advanced class has its perks. Sith Marauders, for instance, get access to dual-wield lightsabers and deal higher numbers in damage-per-second (DPS). This is extremely useful for player-versus-environment (PvE) settings – meaning when you’re not playing against real people, but Sith Marauders have downsides, too. In player-versus-player (PvP) combat, a skilled Marauder would have difficulty fighting against an equally skilled Juggernaut. No matter which of the three Marauder-specific disciplines gets chosen, the Marauder will always be a DPS player. A Sith Juggernaut, however, can choose the Immortal discipline, which is a Tank discipline, not a DPS one. The game has 8 classes, 16 advanced classes, and 48 unique disciplines. The extensive diversity and variation in gameplay and combat styles add to the replayability of the game.
One of the best parts of SWTOR is its post-launch content. The Rise of the Hutt Cartel & Shadow of Revan expansions are now free-to-play for all players. Furthermore, you get all of the expansions permanently unlocked on your account by just subscribing for a single month. Fans of the original Knights of the Old Republic video game (and comics) will be interested in the Shadow of Revan expansion, which takes place roughly 300 years after the events of the original KOTOR. If you want to know more about the relationship between KOTOR I/II and SWTOR, I would encourage you to check out the Revan novel. But if you don’t have time for that, you can also find a fan-film on YouTube largely-based off of the novel. Also, if you play as a Jedi Knight in SWTOR, the novel (and movie) offers more insight to the backstory of one of your companions. However, the movie might be difficult to follow without having read or listened to the book.
The Knights of the Eternal Throne and Knights of the Fallen Empire expansions are beyond incredible: imagine Game of Thrones meets Star Wars. The production value is clearly very high, and the story is phenomenally told. The Rise of the Emperor expansion is both brilliant and horrifying at the same time. It really brings the Sith Emperor’s true nature to light. Rise of the Hutt Cartel is a breath of fresh air from the Sith-Jedi, Imp-Pub conflicts. Makeb is a beautiful planet, and dealing with the Hutts is as intense as ever. Jedi Under Siege and Onslaught really bring post-launch SWTOR back to the game’s roots: we meet characters new and old, one of whom was long-thought dead. There are many other expansions and content updates that I’d love to talk about, but I’d be here for hours. One other content update that needs mentioning is the Cartel Market. Fortunately, the microtransaction system is cosmetic only – nothing you can buy will put you at an unfair advantage in PvP combat.
The game has recently surpassed over one billion dollars in revenue, so you may be wondering why you never (or rarely) hear about the game on the official Star Wars social media pages. I believe that it’s because the game isn’t a part of Disney’s canon. The game came out before Disney bought Star Wars, and a contract was signed regarding SWTOR, meaning that Disney can’t simply dismiss it the way they did for the rest of the original Star Wars canon – Filoni’s Clone Wars excluded. The nature of an MMORPG is to exist for years upon years, often decades (like World of Warcraft). Thus, when Disney said the Expanded Universe was to be discontinued in 2014 to make way for their new canon, they couldn’t simply cancel SWTOR – especially after hundreds of millions of dollars had been poured into the game’s development and advertising. In essence, SWTOR’s story updates are the lifeline that keeps the Expanded Universe’s continuation alive. The only other exception to this was Marvel’s Star Wars #108 from 2019, which was a one-shot comic book in the style and spirit of their original 107-issue-long Star Wars series which went on from 1977 through 1986. SWTOR being labeled “Legends” by Disney has not stopped the developers at Bioware from pouring their hearts and souls into this game. The devs say they have big plans for the ten year anniversary of SWTOR’s launch in 2021, and I can’t wait to see what treats they have in store for us.
Contains Minor Spoilers For Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: Dark Disciple (2015 novel)
The Siege of Mandalore story arc marks the end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and many fans of the show are left wondering what will become of Ahsoka Tano and Maul. Ahsoka’s story continues in Star Wars: Rebels, and we know that Ahsoka survives past the Battle of Endor from the final scene of the show. And guess what? It is all-but-confirmed that she’s coming to the second season of the live-action Mandalorian Disney+ series! And the pandemic doesn’t seem to be delaying the scheduled October release.
As for Maul, we already know how his story ends in Star Wars: Rebels. But one scene with Maul in the show’s epic conclusion has been overlooked by many fans. In The Phantom Apprentice, at 11:36, we see Maul on a holo call with some of the galaxy’s most notorious crime lords. On the right, we see the public leader of Crimson Dawn, Dryden Vos! Remember the main villain from the Solo movie with the face scars? Yep – that’s him!
In the middle, we see Marg Krim, the powerful leader of the Pike Syndicate from the preceding story arc with Ahsoka and the Martez sisters. Krim is the Pike who Ahsoka uses a Jedi mind trick on. Seeing Krim alive in the Siege of Mandalore arc shocked me because I expected Maul to butcher him for his failures in the previous arc. Maul had threatened the Pike, and then Krim went on to fail yet again. On the left, we see the return of Ziton Moj, the leader of Black Sun. He’d been involved in previous seasons of the show and became Black Sun’s leader after Savage Opress killed Black Sun’s ruling council. One thing that makes this scene rather funny is the history between Krim and Moj. In Disney’s canon, Moj tries to coerce Krim into merging the Pike Syndicate with Black Sun by kidnapping Krim’s family. Moj’s plan is ruined by Ventress and Jedi Master Quinlan Vos rescuing Krim’s family. Then, Black Sun sends a fleet to attack the Pike base on Oba Diah – where Ahsoka and the Martez sisters are later held prisoner in season 7. Needless to say, knowing the history between Krim and Moj makes it a bit humorous to see them side by side on a holo call with Maul. It’s also quite ironic that Maul tells the three crime lords to go off the grid because, in canon, Maul spends many Imperial years trapped in a Sith temple on Malachor. In 3 BBY, Maul escapes the temple but is finished off only a year later by Kenobi on Tatooine. Because of Maul’s years-long absence and subsequent death, there is a void in Empire-era villains that needs filling for the small screen. Disney could easily just have Vader become more prominent and involved, but a part of what makes Vader so compelling in the OT is the combination of his intimidation factor and how little of him we actually see. His presence is felt throughout the trilogy, but he’s not actually in it all that much. But because he has such a small amount of screen-time, when he is on the screen, he grabs the audience’s full attention. Christopher Nolan did something similar with Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. The Joker’s presence is felt throughout the entire two-and-a-half-hour-long movie, even though he only on-screen for half an hour. While this might seem like a lot compared to Vader through a film-to-film lens, keep in mind that the Joker’s character arc was condensed into a single film, whereas Vader’s spanned a trilogy. Whenever Ledger’s Joker was on-screen, he held the audience’s full attention – much like Vader. Disney recognized this. In the thirty-seven-and-a-half hours of Star Wars: Rebels, Vader only received twenty-five minutes of screen-time. There’s a reason Vader only gets a handful of minutes of screen-time in Rogue One. If we were to see him all the time on-screen, he becomes oversaturated and less menacing. So the question becomes: who should fill the void? I think they should bring back another EU villain. I can’t think of any villain who’d be a more interesting antagonist for a pre-ANH Han Solo than Prince Xizor. (Maul wouldn’t be feasible – the force gives him too much of an edge).
When I first watched Maul’s Clone Wars scene with the cameo appearance of Ziton Moj, the Falleen dressed in purple robes, the first name that came to mind wasn’t Moj, it was Prince Xizor. The dark prince of Black Sun, as he was sometimes called, was the main antagonist in Shadows of the Empire, the first Star Wars multimedia project (1996-1997). Shadows of the Empire told the tale of what happened between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The SotE multimedia project had everything but actual film footage – unless you count video game cutscenes. Along with the game, there was an audio drama, a novel, comics, a junior novelization, toys & action figures – heck, it even had its own soundtrack! Unfortunately, Disney’s decision to discontinue the beloved Expanded Universe in 2014 means that Shadows of the Empire is no longer “canon.” But just because something isn’t deemed “canon” by Disney doesn’t mean it isn’t real Star Wars content. (Not to mention it was all canon in the Lucas-era of Star Wars before he sold it to Disney). But regardless of your opinion on any of this, a lot of the original Expanded Universe content doesn’t contradict Disney’s canon anyways – particularly the EU content that chronologically comes before Return of the Jedi.
I think it would be a missed opportunity to not reincorporate one of the EU’s most well-known villains into the canon. They did it with Grand Admiral Thrawn with Star Wars: Rebels, so it is certainly within the realm of possibility. If Disney plays its cards right, then perhaps they can have Ziton Moj reveal that his real name is Xizor. Lucasfilm could provide some back story for why he’d kept his true name a secret. Or better yet, Xizor could be Moj’s right-hand man who betrays and murders Moj, becoming who we know him to be from the Expanded Universe. Or, in classic Xizor fashion, the dark prince could use his wealth to bribe Moj into handing Black Sun over to him. And I can’t think of a better way to reintroduce Xizor than to have him be the villain for the only “Big Three” Star Wars character he never had to face in Shadows of the Empire: Han Solo. Xizor was in other EU content as well, but his most prominent and significant role was in SotE.
If “Solo 2” ends up being a Disney+ show, (which is more likely than a Solo 2 movie due to the pandemic’s effect on movie theatres, and since the first Solo movie was the first Star Wars film to be a box office failure), exploring the criminal underworld during the time of the Empire would be a very intriguing premise to fans. Han Solo’s backstory in both canon and the EU involved a lot of dealings with the criminal side of the galaxy. It’s more fleshed out in the EU, and it would be amazing to see his canon pre-ANH days in a Disney+ series. Just think about the possibilities for such a show: Greedo and Rodian Gangs, Jabba and his fellow Hutts, Boba Fett and Mandalorians, Maul & Qi’ra, and the return of the cold, cunning, despicable Xizor and his iconic human replica droid, Guri. It wouldn’t feel stale and recycled if Xizor is used as a villain for a Han Solo series because, in Shadows of the Empire, Han is frozen in carbonite the whole time. Xizor already has his own musical theme from the SotE project, and the soundtrack could be incorporated into a canon show. It wouldn’t be the first time Disney’s used EU music in its canon: the Javyar’s Cantina theme from the Knights of the Old Republic video game was implemented in both seasons of the Star Wars: Resistance television series. With the pandemic, creating a new orchestral Star Wars soundtrack becomes extremely difficult because of how COVID necessitates social distancing. An orchestra requires lots of people gathered in close proximity playing musical instruments together. To make matters worse, many of these instruments are impossible to play with masks because they require the user to blow into them (wind instruments). SotE has a soundtrack already, so a lot of the music could be edited to fit the hypothetical show, and it would be fitting for a show with Xizor.
If you haven’t played Shadows of the Empire, I would highly recommend it. It’s on N64 and PC. Though I’m warning you: the swoop bike chase on Tatooine is very difficult with a keyboard and mouse! The book is also fantastic, as it tells the meat and potatoes of the SotE story, fully tying together the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi with an incredible story. And the comics, oh the comics! The SotE comics are some of the most beautifully-colored Star Wars comic books I’ve ever seen. Definitely check them out!
Guest Post by Brian Matthews
I think romance is a very underrated form of storytelling. At its core, a well-written romance hinges on highly developed character interaction, one of the most fundamental aspects of storytelling. Most people(or at least more than I would like) pass it off as a pretty cheap uninteresting art that people do get demographics riled up and cause them to spend more on the merchandise(… or for smut depending on what the genre is). Not an entirely untrue assessment but a very short-sighted one. Part of my hope is to get people to take this art more seriously.
Now to be clear I draw a distinction between shipping and romance: shipping is based on appearances and/or potential dynamics that could happen in a story, while a romance is the active story behind an established (or establishing) romantic relationship.
Also, keep in mind that this is my personal list and while I will do my best to explain my logic you don’t have to agree with me or my opinion. All I ask is that my own opinion be respected.
Finally, as this is my list I will be taking as many liberties as I feel are necessary to convey my opinion.
I’ll preface this first one with something that will sound weird: I am not actually a ‘Bumblebee’ shipper. While I enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters in the initial phase of RWBY I didn’t really see much storytelling potential for their relationship(at least nothing that couldn’t already be done with a friendship). On top of that I just thought other options had more story potential.
Now why would I say such a controversial thing despite having this pair be on my list. Well, my opinion changed. While the Adam plotline in Vol. 6 had a lot of people divided, to me it gave me an element that I thought was lacking previously: a reason. And while I had mixed feelings about the affair as a whole it did give me a reason to care about Blake and Yang’s shared story and any potential relationship that might happen. And with the seeds planted, their chemistry in Vol. 7 sealed the deal for me and now I am flying the flag 100%. They still have room to grow in my opinion but I think CRWBY will have something good prepared.
This one is a fun one for me. While their chemistry is certainly a highlight, the thing I really like about them is the strong sense of theme they have. If you look at it in chess terms Shikamaru is the king (the most strategically important piece) and Temari is the queen (the most tactically important piece). Tactics are about the efficiency of each individual move and what can be done in each specific moment. Strategy on the other hand is about the overall picture and what can be done to win the long term. Both their fighting styles and personalities reflect this and as a consequence they make a rather effective pair. The only reason it isn’t higher on the list is that the relationship itself didn’t get a whole lot of focus in its respective show.
Remember those liberties I was talking about.
I think that the Mass Effect romances are generally well written so I need at least one on my list. Liara is an honorable mention and a few of the others aren’t too far behind, but if I had to choose one this would be the pair. They compliment each other in a good cop bad cop sort of a way. Garrus is the hot head Shepherd is the one who keeps him grounded. Combine their dynamic with the quality VA work and the rather touching moments throughout the latter Mass Effect titles, you get something pretty satisfying.
This is one where the more I thought about it the more it grew on me. I always liked the way Aang’s feelings for Katara reflected his own personal growth starting with a schoolboy crush evolving into a physical attraction, an emotional attraction and finally their actual relationship.
That being said I wasn’t really all that invested in it until I started watching Avatar reactions. After that I started noticing more details and appreciating it. Unfortunately it felt a bit stunted to me by not getting a more extensive ending. Though this has more to do with the timing rather than any actual problem I have with the writing. End of the day a good watch.
A lot of the basic romance elements are present in this one but I will draw attention to the two standout scenes that really make this a favorite.
First, the emotional climax. An emotional climax is the moment where the romantic feelings begin in either one or both of the involved parties. And I am not simply referring to a simple physical attraction, I am talking about the feelings of genuine love. There are a number of ways to do it but I have found the most effective way is through a moment of vulnerability.
Case and point: Winry’s first confrontation with Scar. Now I could talk at length about that specific scene for a while but for the sake of time I will keep it topic specific. After the actual confrontation with Winry was breaking down with some hard emotions after her inability to hurt Scar. So to calm her down Edward tells her that her hands aren’t meant for taking life they were meant to give life. A moment of honest feelings to give their relationship a compelling bond.
Second, the romantic climax. The romantic climax is the moment in the story when the romance is finalised by a mutual exchange of feelings. This is normally the moment in the story for the fated ‘true loves kiss’ and whatnot, though for me the kiss should always be secondary to the emotions they represent. One opinion that I hold very highly when it comes to romances is that if a kiss is absolutely necessary for the story to work then you’re probably doing it wrong.
Case and point: Edward’s proposal. Edward (the nerd god that he is) confesses his love through equivalent exchange leading to one of the most wholesome moments in the entire series. No kiss, just words. The only thing that could possibly make this more wholesome is the fact that allegedly the author didn’t do it because she couldn’t draw kissing. I rest my case.
Technically this was never (to my knowledge) outright stated so this could be assumption. But it’s also my list so I get to make the rules.
This one is simple but sweet. Actions speak louder than words(as link can attest) because this one is composed mostly of a handful of short scenes. In these scenes they convey so much through use of imagery, phrasing and body language.
Not much more to say about this one. I just find it enjoyable to watch play out.
This is one I wasn’t expecting and was happy to watch play out. When Rayla almost confessed her feelings at the end of season 2 I felt a bit taken aback and looked back into the previous episodes. Looking back I started noticing subtle moments throughout the second season that made me contextualize it a bit more. From the emotion of her consoling Callum to subtle hints of concern and relief in her body language to her speech about how healthy relationships require the full truth I began noticing a lot that I didn’t the first time around.
The same happened with Callum in Season 3 but to a lesser extent because I was expecting it. The moment they kissed it recontextualised a lot of stuff leading up to it: Callum’s drawings of Rayla, his conversation with her after the lightning strike, and his emotional support of her. I just love how well constructed it is on a storytelling level.
I give so much credit to the animators/voice actors for bringing their emotions to life and the writers for giving kids a good relationship to aspire to. They don’t get nearly enough credit for what they pull off in this series.
Wholesome is the only word I have to describe this relationship. Wholesome romance. Wholesome marriage. Wholesome parents. Not much more to say than that.
I will say one thing I liked: their relationship is a sort of reversal of traditional gender stereotypes with Kushina as the tom boy and Minato as the… well Hinata. I don’t generally care one way or the other about gender stereotypes in general but I think it can be really fun to subvert if you know how to do it properly(for instance Death from the comic Sandman).
Aside from that I just feel it is a really good pairing that represents the ideal of relationships and parenting. They bring out the best in each other and bring out the best in their son.
Anyway, just a really wholesome romance all around, ending with one of the saddest most bitter sweet love stories I have ever heard in my entire life. There honestly isn’t much I can say that their story itself hasn’t already said.
Seeing how this show was about their romance this pairing may have had an unfair advantage. On a basic level it has all the necessary components present: symmetrical character foils, grounded arguments, wholesome moments, heartfelt banter, well timed slapstick, and long building character development. To fully explain the intricacy of this relationship would necessitate me talking about the entire show front to back and I don’t have time for that. So instead I will talk about the element that, in my opinion, elevates it all the way up to my second place: The Ending.
Another one of my personal opinions on romance is that saving the relationship for the very end of the story is like getting a cake and only licking the icing off of it (tasty but lacking in substance). However, one belief that I hold in higher regard than this is that while a good ending brings closure to the story but a great ending does something that can only be done in that moment. Inuyasha’s ending (and by extension its romance)works because it can only happen when the two of them are ready to get together. The two of them cannot get together at the beginning because they are not emotionally ready for it. Kagome is a pile of insecurities who doesn’t have any sense of her purpose in life and Inuyasha leagues worse than her when it comes to personal problems. It was only after the lessons of their journey, the trials of Naraku, and the three years of self reflection that were finally able to fully come into their own as fully developed people. Only then could their stories end. And only then could their romance reach its well earned climax.
I can only think of one other romance that could possibly outrank my feelings for this one.
Most of what I have previously said goes into this one. They are perfect foils for one another, one empathic the other cerebral. They took their sweet time to build their relationship from the ground up. Their dynamic is based on an everbuilding trust and understanding. They started out as arch enemies which naturally means shipping fuel. An unintentionally clever reversal of gender stereotypes. Fueled by healthy discussion and lighthearted banter. Not to mention they make one of the strongest power couples ever conceived.
However, if I had to choose one factor to represent this pairing it would be the extra dimension added by their force abilities. In the Star Wars universe, the force allows certain individuals to develop empathic and telepathic bonds which unbelievably heighten the storytelling experience. Timothy Zahn in particular does a masterful job of portraying this in his respective novels and really brings their relationship alive in a way that is rarely done. The emotions of their bond become a near tangible thing and I have yet to see replicated as effectively in any form of media I have come across. In my opinion a true masterpiece and worthy of being my favorite romance in fiction.